Visions of America: Personal Narratives from the Promised Land / Edition 1

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This anthology of personal essay and autobiography follows the waves of immigration into and migration within the United States from 1900 to the present.
Thirty-six writers of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds explore the specific tensions of being American with roots in another culture and also address historical moments which have defined American life during this century—the battle at Wounded Knee, the Second World War, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War, among them. Powerful, first-person accounts, they follow different paths. But each one is driven by the deep need to bear witness and to bring coherence to personal and collective experience.
The contributors are: James Baldwin, Wendell Berry, Carlos Bulosan, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Joan Didion, W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles Alexander Eastman, Gretel Ehrlich, James Farmer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mary Gordon, Vivian Gornick, Jessica Hagedon, Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, Eva Hoffman, June Jordan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Kim Yong Ik, Ron Kovic, Paule Marshall, Pablo Medina, N. Scott Momaday, Bharati Mukherjee, Geoffrey O'Brien, Gregory Orfalea, Sonia Pilcer, Mario Puzo, Jonathan Raban, Adrienne Rich, Richard Rodriguez, Anton Shammas, Monica Stone, Gary Soto, Michael Stephens, Sui Sin Far, and Anzia Yezierska.
Visions of America is the nonfiction companion to Imagining America: Stories from the Promised Land, also edited by Wesley Brown and Amy Ling.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this rich and diverse collection, three dozen 20th-century writers muse about their experiences in and observations of America. A companion to Imagining America: Stories from the Promised Land, also edited by Brown and Ling, these essays--most reprints or excerpts from books--suggest that multiculturalism can expand our vision rather than divide us. Though the essays are organized in rough chronological fashion, some emphasize place Barbara Grizzuti Harrison on Bensonhurst, Michael Stephens on Hawaii, others identity Richard Rodriguez on language, Eva Hoffman on ``postmodern uncertainty'', others the immigrant experience Bharati Mukherjee or the changing times Joan Didion on the 1960s, James Farmer on the civil rights movement. Some Americans must leave home to find insights June Jordan in the Bahamas, while some non-Americans come here to observe, such as the Palestinian Anton Shammas who sees the country as big enough to contain the ``portable homelands'' brought by immigrants. Amidst the play of ideas and emotions surrounding ethnicity and identity, essays by Wendell Berry and Gretel Ehrlich celebrate the enduring truths of the land. Jan.
Library Journal
Companion to the excellent story collection Imagining America LJ 11/15/91, this montage of essays and memoirs responds to 100 years of American life from perspectives of ``semi-otherness.'' Thirty-eight noted writers consider the intricacies and absurdities of being present-tense Americans with foreign histories. The diverse group includes Paule Marshall, Adrienne Rich, Mario Puzo, and Gary Soto. They contribute interpretations of personal ethnic and cultural experiences, eyewitness reviews of episodes that have informed the nation's identity, and provocative, self-referential social critiques. Too ambitiously broad in themes and approaches to coalesce well, Visions of America is a disparate but consistently high-quality sampling of writers whom America should be proud to claim. Recommended for general collections.-- Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892551743
  • Publisher: Persea Books
  • Publication date: 7/9/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Wesley Brown, novelist and playwright, is also the editor of Imagining America and Visions of America. He is on the faculty of Rutgers University.

Amy Ling (d. 1999), critic and scholar, was the founding director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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Table of Contents

The Ghost Dance War 1
Of the Black Belt 8
Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian 22
The Myth That Made Hollywood 34
Echoes of the Jazz Age 40
Choosing a Dream: Italians in Hell's Kitchen 48
from America is in the Heart 60
To Begin With 74
The Making of a Writer: From the Poets in the Kitchen 82
Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity 90.
from A Native Hill 106
from The Names 116
Pearl Harbor Echoes in Seattle 122
The Messenger of the Lost Battalion 135
Going Home: Brooklyn Revisited 158
Suburbs 170
Silent Dancing 179
Love Me Or Leave Me 187
from The Woman Warrior 195
2G 201
A Book-Writing Venture 207
"I Can't Stand Your Books": A Writer Goes Home 212
from Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language 219
from Hunger of Memory 229
"Tomorrow Is for Our Martyrs" 236
The White Album 245
from Born on the Fourth of July 269
from No Name in the Street 284
Amerka, Amerka: A Palestinian Abroad in the Land of the Free 291
Like Mexicans 301
Report from the Bahamas 305
Immigrant Waves 316
Homesick 326
Two Cuban Dissidents: Heberto Padilla and Belkis Cuza Male 329
from Hunting Mister Heartbreak: A Discovery of America 344
The Solace of Open Spaces 357
Acknowledgments 366
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